Current World Champions France will close the first phase of the 2022 FIFA World Cup European Qualifiers with a match against Bosnia and Herzegovina. Didier Deschamps’ men will be looking to end the international window with another win, following a positive result against Kazakhstan. Bosnia, meanwhile, will be on the lookout for their first win.
2018 FIFA World Cup winners, France, started the campaign to qualify for the next tournament slowly. Les Bleus disappointingly drew their first European qualifier against Ukraine but bounced back against Kazakhstan with a 2-0 win. Didier Deschamps’ men will face Bosnia and Herzegovina in their third qualification match before the international window closes.
Despite the win over Kazakhstan, France were less than convincing in the match. The world champions led through Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele in the 19th minute. They then doubled the lead through a Serhiy Malyi own goal just before half-time but failed to offer anything going forward in the second half.
France did create an odd chance in the second half against Kazakhstan but were collectively missing their ‘finishing boots’. As much was evident when Kylian Mbappe saw his penalty saved by the goalkeeper. Deschamps will be looking for a more emphatic performance from his side when they face Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Due to their group containing five teams, Bosnia and Herzegovina have only played one competitive match in the current international window. The match, which was against Finland, ended in a 2-2 draw, giving the Ivaylo Petev’s side their first point of the qualification campaign. Miralem Pjanic scored first before a Teemu Pukki brace saw Finland race into the lead. Miroslav Stevanovic’s late equalizer ensured that the Dragons got something from the match.
France have competed against Bosnia and Herzegovina four times in the past. All four contests have been played since the turn of the century, with Les Bleus yet to lose against the opponents. They have won two games while drawing two, with their most recent match – a UEFA Euro qualifier in 2011 – ending in a stalemate.
Kylian Mbappe: He may have missed a penalty against Kazakhstan but there isn’t a player in the world whose stock is as high as Mbappe at the moment. The Frenchman simply is among the best players in the world, and as a result, is expected to deliver for his country time and again. Mbappe’s sheer pace is a threat in its own right but when combined with his finishing ability makes him unstoppable. He will likely be Les Bleus’ key attacking threat once again, as they look to close out the international break with a win.
Paul Pogba: No one can deny that Pogba is a talented player, despite his constant struggles for club side Manchester United. The midfielder has suffered since his return to Old Trafford due to injuries and inconsistency. Despite that, he continues to turn up for France when they need him the most – a brilliant display in the 2018 World Cup final is evidence of the same. Deschamps will likely rely upon his star to get the better of Miralem Pjanic in the opposition midfield.
Edin Dzeko: Now in the twilight of his career, Dzeko is no longer the centre forward he used to be. The AS Roma turned 35 earlier this month but remains important to Bosnia and Herzegovina. While age has certainly caught up to him, with his declining numbers reflecting the same, he can still give the French defenders a difficult time. Dzeko’s movement will likely be restricted in and around the penalty box, but it is exactly the area where the ex-Manchester City man is at his best.
Anel Ahmedhodzic: A quick search on the internet will provide enough insight into the talent that is Ahmedhodzic. The Bosnian defender is not popular without a cause, rather, he is considered among the most talented young centre-backs in Europe. The spotlight will be on him in the match against France, with the 22-year-old facing the likes of Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, and Olivier Giroud. A solid performance can only add to the excitement around an already promising youngster.
Bosnia and Herzegovina have failed to register a win in the current international window – that in itself is a cause for concern for head coach Petev. A draw against Finland was followed up with another stalemate – a 0-0 against Costa Rica. The Dragons are desperate for a win. Unluckily for them, they are facing one of the best international sides in the world.
Once again, France are the heavy favourites heading into the match. Deschamps’ men may have failed to impress in the current international break, but they remain a force to be reckoned with. Bosnia and Herzegovina will know better than to take their opponents lightly. The minnows could take advantage of France’s inconsistent form of late. However, one would still back the World Champions to claim victory from this one.